PGA Tour board members speak, Bryson’s advice, 1 shocking amateur | Monday Finish

Amateur golfer Luke Clanton celebrates putt at the 2024 John Deere Classic.

Luke Clanton's T2 weekend is just the beginning.

Getty Images

Welcome back to the Monday Finish, where we’re applying for a special job — Michael Jordan’s golf-cart driver — that could be in demand next Ryder Cup thanks to the inspired captain choice of Keegan Bradley. More on that tomorrow. But first, this week’s news…

(And a plea: Get this column in your email inbox every Monday by signing up for free HERE!)

GOLF STUFF I LIKE

The am beating the pros.

There are actually two PGA Tour events happening this coming week — the Genesis Scottish Open across the pond and the ISCO Championship in Kentucky. The Scottish is the stronger field and boasts most top PGA Tour players; the co-favorites are the World No. 2 and 3, Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele, each going off at 8-1.

But at the ISCO? The favorite is an amateur, going off at just 12-1. And he’s worth rooting for.

Luke Clanton said something last week that caught my eye. He was in the midst of a remarkable run for a college golfer; the rising junior at Florida State had just made the cut at the U.S. Open and finished T10 at the Rocket Mortgage and was just kicking off a week where he’d wind up T2 at the John Deere Classic. Had he been taking home a paycheck, these few weeks would have earned him close to a million dollars. Instead? Nada.

Okay, not quite nada. Clanton was sporting a “Union Home Mortgage” logo on his shirt and hat as he addressed the media, a reminder that we’re in a new era when it comes to amateur golf. Then a reporter posed the question: Is there much NIL (name, image and likeness) sponsorship money in college golf?

“There’s a little bit, no doubt,” he said. The reporter followed up. Surely there isn’t enough to offset the money he’d be making as a Tour pro?

“I think it’s enough for a college student, for sure,” Clanton said. “I think it’s — I don’t really need a lot of money right now. I’m 20 years old, still at Florida State University. It’s enough to handle what we have here and to be able to travel. I think it’s good.”

Good stuff there, especially that two-word phrase we haven’t seen much of: “It’s enough.” It was a striking contrast to an observation Rory McIlroy had made about his fellow pros just a couple months ago: “I think the one thing we’ve learned in golf over the last two years is there’s never enough.”

Maybe he’ll get there eventually. Maybe he’ll build an insatiable appetite for more. But on Sunday, after Clanton closed with a stirring final-round eight-under 63 to become the first amateur in decades to record back-to-back top-10 finishes, he was asked, again, to confirm he’d be showing up in Kentucky this week as an amateur. He said he would. He still dreams of an FSU national title, after all. There’s no amount of money that can replace another year of golf with the fellas. And based on the game we’ve seen these past few weeks, Clanton will be ready for the big show when the time comes.

Going low. Playing cocky. Enjoying “enough” — at least for now — that’s golf stuff I like.

WINNERS

Who won the week?

Davis Thompson won the John Deere Classic to earn his first PGA Tour victory, shooting seven-under 64 on Sunday to set a tournament scoring record at 28 under for the week. Thompson entered Sunday with a two-shot lead, made a statement 45-foot birdie putt at No. 1 and never looked back; he went on to birdie five of the first six holes en route to a four-shot win. He earns a spot in next week’s Open Championship and will make his Masters debut next April. Get used to seeing him on leaderboards.

Ewen Ferguson won for the third time on the DP World Tour, holding off Jordan Smith and David Micheluzzi at the BMW International Open in Germany. The Scotsman, who has been battling vertigo this season, said the final few holes “felt like I was in a dream” and was ecstatic to earn his spot in the Open, too.

Leona Maguire won for the first time on the Ladies European Tour; she claimed an Aramco Series event thanks to an eagle on the final hole at the Centurion Club outside of London.

And New Zealand’s Ben Campbell won the International Series Morocco thanks to an incredible eagle-birdie finish plus a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat out John Catlin plus an Asian Tour field that included plenty of LIV pros like Eugenio Chacarra and Caleb Surratt, who tied for third.

NOT-WINNERS

The runners-up.

An interesting trio finished T2 at the John Deere.

First there was C.T. Pan, who has made a habit of the sort of trick-or-treat seasons he’s having right now. He finished T3 at the Mexico Open this February; that was his only top 25 entering the week and he’s missed four of his last six cuts. Last year he played a limited schedule, logged a T3 and a fourth-place finish and nothing else inside the top 40. But his Sunday 64 at the Deere moved him to No. 84 in the FedEx Cup and punched his ticket to the Open Championship. When he’s playing well he makes it count.

Next there was Clanton, who pointed out early in the week that there are 20 guys he plays against in college who are capable of winning a Tour event at some point. It was a remark that caused a stir when he said it but then he put his golf where his mouth was, finished second in strokes gained approach and proving that he already has enough to win.

And then there was Michael Thorbjornsen, who recently finished at Stanford and is now living up to his top billing as a rising Tour star. He started Sunday with three pars and then birdied eight of his next 10 holes; a finishing birdie left him with the best finish of his nascent PGA Tour career.

“I mean, this is my third event as a pro. I played really well,” he said.

Pan will head to next week’s Open Championship. The two youngsters? They’ll show up in Kentucky as the two betting favorites. The next generation isn’t coming — it’s already here.

SHORT HITTERS

Two board members speak, in brief.

John Henry, who has quietly become one of the most important people in professional golf, took the Boston Globe behind the scenes of his PGA Tour involvement via the Strategic Sports Group (SSG).

Henry said the idea of working with the Tour first occurred to him during last summer’s Senate hearings, when a potential Saudi PIF-PGA Tour deal left him wondering: “where are the Americans?” What followed, he said, was “one of the most unique deals in the history of sports.”

Fenway Sports Group (which Henry owns) met with the players on the Tour’s advisory board in December, and after a “bidding war” — in which FSG likely had a leg up thanks to close personal relationships — were selected by the board as preferred partner.

FSG CEO Sam Kennedy described the vision: “The thought we came up with was what if we created a group of North American-based sports team owners of these blue-chip franchises and clubs from different leagues. Then we could truly help the PGA Tour during what was clearly a difficult time as they figured out a path forward,” said Kennedy.

SSG valued the Tour at $12.3 billion; the players currently own an 88.5 percent share while SSG’s $1.5 billion initial stake gives it 11.5 percent.

Henry and Kennedy, who each now sit on the board of PGA Tour Enterprises, made their first of two trips to Saudi Arabia in January, just before their deal was finalized, to meet with PIF head Yasir Al-Rumayyan. They declined to get into specifics.

So what happens next? Henry insists that big-picture, incentives are aligned. “The players have the desire, the Public Investment Fund has the desire, same with the Tour in general — I don’t think there’s anyone in golf that doesn’t want to see [a unification of professional golf] happen,” he told the Globe. Full story here.

ONE DUMB GRAPHIC

Scottie, Cameron and Davis.

ONE SWING THOUGHT

From Bryson DeChambeau.

This is simple and beautiful and worth a try if you find yourself thinning or chunking your iron shots.

“If I’m hitting it thin I’ll usually move it up in my stance a little bit,” says Bryson DeChambeau. “If I’m chunking it, I’ll move it back in my stance just a little bit.”

Full Warming Up episode with Bryson here:

ONE BIG QUESTION

How will Rory bounce back?

This week’s Genesis Scottish Open marks a return to competition for Rory McIlroy, who lost last month’s U.S. Open in heartbreaking fashion. He skipped the Travelers Championship the week after that. What will he say in a pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday — and how will he play once it’s time to keep score?

ONE THING TO WATCH

Shane Lowry goes deep.

One part golf, two parts life — dive into a lengthy range session with me and Shane Lowry here in a ‘Warming Up’ episode that is fresh out the oven:

NEWS FROM SEATTLE

Monday Finish HQ.

On Sunday night I snagged a 7:52 p.m. tee time with a few buddies to sneak out for a final nine holes of a four-day Fourth-of-July weekend. I’ll say that again: 7:52 p.m. tee time! Summertime in the PNW. Life is good. Wishing all of you glorious summer nights.

We’ll see you next week.

(Before you go: Get this column in your email inbox every Monday by signing up for free HERE!)

Dylan welcomes your comments at dylan_dethier@golf.com.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.

Watch, play, win. Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games.

Watch, play, win

Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games. Featuring simple to play. easy to learn, and fun games. Chirp Golf has something for every golf fan.

Scan to Download:

Google Play Apple Store